What is the Difference between Foam Board and Gator Board?

October 19, 2018

What is the Difference Between Foam Board and Gator Board

Have you ever been confused over the various kinds of mounting boards available? It can be especially off-putting when you compare pricing and see such a drastic difference from basic foam core boards and gator style boards. They may look the same from a distance, but there is quite a difference between foam board and gator board; a difference that, once you compare the two, you will understand is significant enough to allow for the price difference. So let's talk about it...

Foam board is more of an industry-standard...it is a basic board with a lightweight polystyrene foam core and clay-coated board faces. Basic foam board can be used for mounting graphics, presentations, temporary signage, photo light boxes, school projects, and much more.

Gator board is a more premium option...it is a more durable board that has a more dense polystyrene core and stronger wood-fiber facing that is more resistant to denting. Gator board is the mounting board of choice for signs that will be visible for extended periods of time, trade shows with heavy traffic where they may get bumped in transit and at the show, art shows, and other locations where additional durability would be beneficial.

Board TypeFoam BoardGator Board
Board Thicknesses Available3/16"3/16"
Board Coatings AvailablePlain (Uncoated)
Heat Activated (Hot)
Pressure Sensitive (Cold)
Plain (Uncoated)
Heat Activated (Hot)
Pressure Sensitive (Cold)
Board Sizes Available8" x 10" to 48" x 96"24" x 36" to 60" x 120"
Core MaterialStandard Polystyrene FoamExtra-Dense Polystyrene Foam
Face MaterialClay CoatedLuxcell Wood-Fiber Veneer

Personally, I use basic foam board as a backdrop for videos and product photography. It is bright, and offers great bounce-back of light and contrast for filming. But it doesn't take long for the boards to get dents and creases from products being placed on them. This is why I will be upgrading my photobox to a gatorboard one; because it will last significantly longer, and I will be using it nearly every day for the foreseeable future. But that being said; I am only doing that because I can expense the cost. If I were buying out of pocket as an individual or a very small business, I would probably go with foam board with the understanding that I would have to be careful with the boards to extend their lives, as well as have to replace sooner than I would a gator board.

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Mallory Morsa, Binding101 Product ExpertAbout the Author • Mallory Morsa is the product expert and content specialist at Binding101, and has been a valued team member since 2008. She started her career here in customer service, moved onto sales supervisor, product management, and then onto content. She takes a hands-on approach to products, and truly gets to know how every item works before she writes about them, with a goal to give you all of the honest information you need to make a confident buying decision. She has a bachelor's degree with a focus on management and marketing, and has been a writer, photographer, and videographer for many years. In her free time, she loves to read by the pool, volunteer at the local animal shelter in the kitten nursery, and snuggle her three furbabies while she binge watches Netflix.